Reveal – Entryway

Your entryway is usually the first part of the interior of your home that guests, and most importantly you, see upon entering. Because of this we want ours to be welcoming, inviting, and interesting. The entryway of our house has a traditional layout with the stairs on the right and rooms on the left and overall is quite large. The layout is good but it needed some life.

First off we added lights to the entryway. By virtue of a window at the top of the stairs, the transom, and large frosted glass window in the door the area gets a lot of natural light in the day. However, at night there area is very dark, so in went a ceiling fixture with an amber coloured shade and amber coloured drop pendants. We switched out the other two light fixtures further down the hall to the kitchen with Tiffany-inspired semi-flush mounts, off the shelf from Home Depot. Again, consistency.

We had decided from the outset amber would be the accent colour in the entryway but as you know from this post, we didn’t always know the paint colour. Eventually we chose this deep, bright green from Behr called “Par Four Green” because it helps bring all the wood and dark colours together. The variation in the wood furniture and floor seems less so with this green on the walls. Also, it works well with the charcoal coloured ceramic tile laid at the doorway and the white staircase and trim. Consistency is important so we carried the colour all the way down the hall. This also helps define the space from the other rooms.

We changed the carpet runner to add some more colour, help tie the area together, and for visual interest. Speaking of flooring and consistency, we laid new hardwood in the back part of the hallway. Again, this allows the hall to be consistent and well defined and it is an affordable and practical solution to a bit of a design dilemma. All of our flooring was purchased at Markan – their customer service and knowledge is second to none. We love dealing wit them!

The armoire is gorgeous and also a coat closet. We got an amazing deal on this at Robin’s Nest when they were having a 50% off sale this summer. We bought it without know for sure it would fit! It really was a must have. The marble top desk we got from one of our favourite antique spots, BC Antiques, for a song. It wasn’t in great shape when we got it so it took a lot of cleaning and love to bring it back to life. We got the mirror at BC Antiques as well and it used to belong to a dresser. Together they make a great pair!  The newel post we also bought at BC Antiques and is apparently from Egmont Bay church.

You may remember we had a few issues with our cat when we first moved in. She was scared to go to her litter box. We remedied that for a while but eventually that didn’t work because she was scared to go through the cat door. It slammed when she went through and she just wasn’t having any of it so we had to take it right out. This, of course, left a gaping hole in the door which we covered with a cute little curtain! We picked up the fabric in the bargain bin at Fabricville and I think we paid $2 for it.

Further down the hall we have two pieces of yarn art. Mine is on the left and our friend’s, DIY Doris, is on the right. Yes, DIY Doris is a real person and no, it is not us! We love these pieces because they were hand made by us, with love and are interesting.

We think we accomplished what we set out to do and hope you agree. Voila, our entryway.

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Reveal – Upstairs Bathroom

Work with what you have. This is our number one rule when it comes to renovations and decorating. Working with what you have is usually more cost-effective and almost always offers an exciting design challenge. “How DO you make generic, big box purchases look interesting?” This bathroom was a challenge for the reason we worked with what we had.

The bathroom is an excellent size and has a great layout. There is a nice amount of counter space and there is ample storage so overall the “bones” are there. However, what it was missing was a bit of life; a bit of character. So, for possibly the first time ever at The Empire, a unilateral decision was made and it was to go with a beach theme. I won’t tell you who made that decision but it wasn’t C!

To work with what we had we decided we were keeping the flooring and all fixtures (tub surround, sink and toilet) exactly where they were as moving plumbing is very expensive. For the beach-themed bathroom we (when C finally got on board) didn’t want traditional whites and seafoam greens so we went with a beautiful Island-sand-like colour as paint for the walls. To ensure the flooring looked like a deliberate design choice, we went with Behr’s “Artifact” as it brings out similar hues in the floor. It also brought the space together a bit more to make it feel cozier. It really is a large bathroom!

Black lacquer was the colour choice for accessories. The garbage can is old “slop bucket” spray painted just the right black. Similarly, the chair with the folded white towels is also spray painted black. The shower curtain hooks are small stones, in keeping with the theme, individually painted with clear nailpolish for just the right shine. Along with these hooks the toothbrush holder, cup, soap pump and shower curtain were purchased at Home Outfitters. The mirror is from Winners. However, the more interesting accessories like the candle holders and starfish are from Cottage Industry and the shadow boxes and starfish towel hooks from Moving Designz. The cabinet hardware are in the shape of sea horses, star fish and conchs and purchased at House of Excellence. We went with hooks for the towels as a hanging towel is more casual (like at the beach!). Rather than a curtain, we decided to frost the window as the frosting makes it look like sea-glass. The light fixture is off the shelf from Home Depot and made of sand dollars.

Now, the toilet seat. That God damned toilet seat. The “vision” for the beach-themed bathroom was decided on weeks before it was complete. I knew I wanted a black lacquer toilet seat with chrome detail however, I could not find it anywhere in the city so I went online. Toilet seats can be very expensive so it took a while to find one that was reasonably priced and appropriate. I purchased the seat online on a Sunday evening after one of the first weekends we moved into this house. It was hot, dirty and I was discouraged. I needed something shiny and pretty to feed my soul and this toilet seat was it. I found it online for $35 – PERFECT! Bought it, placed in cart, address added, confirm address, cost of shipping. WAIT! COST OF SHIPPING? It was going to cost $60 to ship the $35 toilet seat. OMG. WHAT do I do? Well, I said “f%$^ it” hit “confirm” and BAM, I paid $95 for a toilet seat. A toilet seat. I immediately transferred the money from my bank account to the credit card and denied to myself that it ever happened. This, ladies and gentlemen, is called “decision fatigue” (or insanity). What we are not fatigued about, however, is our lovely and large beach-themed bathroom.

To toilet seats!


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Reveal – Living Room

The wall colour is Behr’s “Gray Timber Wolf” and it is the inspiration for this room. Well, not the exact colour rather, we knew we wanted a grey for the walls. Everything else just flowed from there.

We sold the contents when we sold our last hom

e and therefore had to start, more or less, from scratch with this house. With the exception of a few wall hangings and personal mementos, everything in this room is new to us. We picked up the majority of the items on Kijiji, at auctions, and at some local antique shops. Most of the items were purchased separately coming together to form one, cohesive living room.

The Berger chairs and the couch were discussed in previous posts and have been customized to our taste and needs using new fabrics. Both pieces of furniture are accented with throw pillows from Cottage Industry.

The rug is from Home Sense and helps showcase the floors. There is a lot of variation in the grain of the floor – and the rug helps bring out the grey and taupe tones. The mantel was picked up at a local antique shop and apparently comes from a home in Charlottetown. No, it will not be painted and yes, it has been cleaned. We like the patina of it and some of the chipped paint exposes a grey paint underneath. It works well in the room. The two vases are family pieces from C’s grandparents and the small Buddha we picked up in Indonesia this past spring.

The china cabinet was a killer of deal we got 50% off at Robin’s Nest Antiques. It is full of treasures picked up along our travels and photos of friends and family. The curtains are ready made panels from Fabricville – the shimmer is a nice addition to the room. The desk and chair in the corner are Mark Butcher and C’s pride and joy of his collection.

The coffee table and end table are a typical set seen in many, many homes. However, a quick covering with spray paint made them the exact colours, creme and gold, we wanted. Underneath the coffee table you will see a set of deer antlers from C’s collection (full collection to be showcased in “The Den”) and branding irons we picked up at an auction. Doesn’t everyone have branding irons in their living room?

Other accessories in the room include an old ship light (under the mantel) filled with white pillar candles, massive (and very heavy) chrome fish that once adorned a U.S. yacht of some sort, or so we are told, and gold-leaf nesting tables and a matching make-shift magazine rack.

The house was previously heated using cast iron radiators. Although we’ve decommissioned that furnace for a brand new one, we nevertheless left one radiator in the room for architectural detail. This room also did not have any hard wired lighting so we added pot lights, which are an excellent and practical update to any room. As you can also see from the ‘before’ photos, this room (along with every other room on the first floor) was wallpapered, and the subsequent removal and preparation of the walls was a huge job. It took many hours of scraping, seam filling, sanding, and more seam filling to have them smooth and paint-ready.

The room is now complete. It is a cozy, warm room that we are happy to have. Truth be told we are most happy to have a place to sit comfortably! However, the pretty things are nice too!


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Reveal – Master Bedroom

People often ask us how we decide what a room will look like in the end or how we know where to start. The answer is usually found with where we start and where that is can depend on many, many things. For our master bedroom we started with the lamps.

We saw the lamps at Winners and instantly loved the incredibly mix of raspberry red and indigo blue. With the purchase of those lamps we had the beginnings of our bedroom. The couch would come later and originally was not planned for the bedroom. To be honest, we had no idea where it would go except that we loved it and had to have it when we saw it at an auction. HAD to have it.

The turquoise throw cushions, as was a small turquoise table not in the shot, were originally purchased for the den. However, we would eventually go in a different direction with the den leaving the pillows temporarily homeless. I assume you can see where this is going? To recap, we had lamps but not much else. So from this was born our master bedroom design.

The wall colour is Behr’s Palm Breeze. It is a very light green – the same green found on the small leaves on the lamp shades. That is where we chose the colour from. The sheets are a similar colour as is one of the accent pillows on the bed. The comforter is a basic, versatile white with a bit of detail at the bottom.

Headboards can be expensive so we opted for a more versatile option. Our headboard is actually wallpaper framed with random trim we purchased at the local flea market and had cut to size. We used our very favourite white (Behr’s Pot-of-Cream) to paint the trim to ensure it provided necessary definition. The headboard cost about $100, including wallpaper, and took less than two hours to complete.

The curtains are the same raspberry red found in the lamp shades. They are ready-made panels from Fabricville and we got them on sale, 50% off. The end tables were $10 each and spray painted. The accessories on top are a mix of Today’s Treasures including something from a local pottery shop and a coveted piece by Scott Barnim. Also, on the right bedside table you will see our dear peacock! The light fixture is one that was already in the house but in a different room. The brushed nickel finish goes well with the base of the lamps.

So, voila! There you have it. That is exactly how that room came together and needless to say we love it. A relaxing, yet colourful and of course, restful room. Enjoy!

This first photo is of the room as the previous owner’s had it, and was taken during one of our viewings before we bought the property.  The wall colour is actually a light blue, but the reflection from the curtains make it look pink.

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Reveal – The Exterior

It started with hope and a vision. We were hopeful there were wood shingles underneath the vinyl siding and we envisioned a beautifully restored red house. We think, in the end, hope sprung eternal and our vision was executed. And more to the point, it is finished!

The colour is Benjamin Moore’s “Caliente”. We love it. We picked it out weeks before the first shingle was to be painted. You see, it took us three days, with three people and two dumpsters full to get the vinyl siding and metal trim off. After that we needed something to feed our souls so we went to House of Excellence to pick out the colour(s). Given the siding didn’t come off until the end of August and we knew we would be painting well into October, we purchased paint that allowed us to work in temperatures as low as four degrees. We did not, however, think we would be painting into November. We were.

Although the shingles and clapboard were in excellent condition when we removed them, they still required some love. After all, the vinyl siding was put on with hundreds, if not thousands, of nails. Each nail hole was filled with a special wood epoxy, allowed to cure and then sanded along with each and every inch of the exterior. Then went on the primer, the first coat of paint, the second and last coat of paint and finally, the trim.

Parts of the exterior had to be restored. You will see in the photos that thee edges of the window sills were notched out at the ends so the vinyl siding could be placed on flush with the rest of the house. Sacrilege! In addition to this, the original headers above the windows and brackets along the eves were knocked off. We had new headers and brackets custom milled to restore the exterior to its original appearance and grandeur. The window sills were also restored.

We put all new windows in the house and they are, obviously, white. The go well with the white trim. The black, we think, is a very sharp accent colour adding some drama and an “anchor” to the house.

The condition of the back deck speaks for itself. It took C and I all of an hour to rip it apart and throw it in the dumpster. The new deck was custom built by Blackhawk Custom Builders (amazing work!) and we had privacy screens added for comfort. We kept the front step simple so as not to detract from the detail of the headers and brackets however, it needed to be painted black and not kept its original colour.

The exterior doors are Jeld-Wen and purchased from Metro Building Supplies. The exterior lights are off the shelf from Home Depot and we got an AMAZING deal on them. The previous exterior lights on the front of the house were solar-powered and we needed hard-wired! All the exterior lights are the same, as are the doors, for consistency and cohesion. The mailbox is a simple black one with a brushed nickel finish while the house number above the door is a little more ornate, for character.

The exterior is finished and we are very happy and relieved. Most of the interior is finished and what’s left will be wrapped up in the next couple of weeks. Today, for the first time since moving in, the house was organized and clean enough that we were able to comfortably walk inside in bare feet. The end is near, and so is our comfort. Much the way this jewel of a house was sprung from its oppressive siding, we are being sprung from our camping-like living arrangements.

Was this hard work? Yes. Did it take more time and money than we thought? Yes. Would be do it all over again? Absolutely!



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